New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations


New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations
"The essential guide to employment"

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New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations
Volume 40  Number 3

In the latest New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations the following topics are covered. If you wish to read the full articles or download the entire NZJER issue you need to subscribe to the NZJER.

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Employer and Union Responses to Traumatic Death at Work: Evidence from Australia

Michael Quinlan*, Lynda Matthews**, Philip Bohle*** and Scott Fitzpatrick****


Little is known about how employers and trade unions deal with work-related death, even in higher-risk industries. This study examines union and employer responses to work-related death. Drawing on interviews conducted with 48 representatives from the key organisations involved in workplace death in Australia, the aim was not only to determine how employers and unions see their respective roles, but also how other organisations (safety regulators, insurers, compensation authorities and family support/advocacy groups) perceive their activities. The findings identify critical institutional relationships and their implications for both industrial relations and victim’s families. They show areas of agreement and disagreement between unions and employers. They also highlight the impact of changes to work arrangements and industrial relations, most notably the growth of self-employment/ subcontracting and declining union density, on the experience of families. The study also points to the support role provided by unions as another dimension of their contribution to social capital and how some recent initiatives were extending these activities.

* Michael Quinlan, School of Organisation and Management, Australian School of Business, The University of New South Wales (correspondence)
** Lynda Matthews, Associate Professor, Head of Discipline (Rehabilitation Counselling), Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney
*** Philip Bohle, Work and Health Research Team, Ageing, Work and Health Research Team, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney
**** Scott Fitzpatrick, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, University of Newcastle, Australia

Women and Careers: New Zealand Women’s Engagement in Career and Family Planning

Sarah Ussher*, Maree Roche** and Donald Cable***


How career commitment, career salience, subjective career success, and proactive personality impact on career planning for women is the focus of this paper. Additionally, women have further complications in career planning as they consider family as well as career decisions, which suggests that women’s career paths are generally regarded as complex. This study investigated 178 New Zealand women without children, regarding the extent that non-mothers engage in career planning, including the extent that future family planning considerations influence their career plans. We also examined the role of career planning with proactive personality, subjective career success, commitment and salience of women’s careers and role as a parent. Results suggest women feel a need to choose between a career and a family. Furthermore, high parental role commitment and salience increased the likelihood of altered career plans to accommodate family whilst high career commitment and salience decreased the likelihood of altered career plans to accommodate family. Implications include the need for organisations to identify contingency plans for women’s career planning, and consideration in career management programs.

* Organisational Psychology graduate, University of Waikato.
** Senior Lecturer Organisational Psychology, University of Waikato.
*** Teaching Fellow, University of Waikato.

A Theoretical Model Relating the Dark Triad of Personality to the Content of Employees’ Psychological Contracts

Laurent Boey* and Tim Vantilborgh**


Psychological contracts – an individual’s perception of mutual obligations between him/herself and an organisation – form a powerful lens to understanding employment relationship.  While the consequences of the psychological contract are well-documented, its antecedents are not fully understood.  Research suggests that personality traits, operationalised using the Big Five taxonomy, can explain the type of psychological contract that employees develop.  We extend this research by developing a theoretical model that relates three maladaptive traits – the dark triad of personality: Machiavellism, narcissism, and psychopathy – to the content of employees’ psychological contracts. We propose that employees with high scores on these traits tend to develop transactional as opposed to relational psychological contracts. Moreover, we introduce five mediators to explain these relationships: the norm of reciprocity, careerism, perceived organisational support, trust, and interpersonal conflict. Finally, we offer an explanation for earlier suggestions of curvilinear effects of the dark triad traits. We reason that psychopathy and narcissism negatively relate to self-control which, in turn, moderates the relationships between the dark triad traits and the six mediators in our model.

* Vrije Universiteit Brussel – Work and Organizational Psychology
Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Elsene
** Vrije Universiteit Brussel – Work and Organizational Psychology
Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Elsene
E-mail corresponding author:

Employee Social Liability – More than just low social capital within the workplace

Rachel Morrison* and Keith Macky**


We describe a construct termed employee social liability (ESL); the antithesis of employee social capital. A conceptualisation of social liability does not yet exist and is the aim of this paper. We propose that ESL arises from workplace social networks and comprises of four distinct components: negative behaviour from others, distrust of others, unwanted social demands on resources, and a lack of reciprocity. Social networks, therefore, include some relationships that build an employee’s social capital, others that create social liabilities and some relationships that might do both. An individual can, therefore, have high or low levels of capital and many or few liabilities. We propose that employees with high social capital and relatively few social liabilities should also have improved well-being and performance outcomes.

* Rachel Morrison teaches undergraduate and post graduate Organisational Behaviour in the Management Department within Faculty of Business and Law. AUT University, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
** Keith Macky has had a long career in both academia and the consulting industry. Business and Enterprise,
MAINZ Campus, Tai Poutini Polytechnic, PO Box 90113 Auckland 1142, NZ

‘Re-validating Contracting’ as an Approach to Forming Lasting Employment Relationships in Small Businesses

Rupert Tipples*


The use of the psychological contract concept in management teaching has not been developed well according to Conway and Briner (2005), who suggest that this is because of the implicit nature of the concept and the vast array of its potential components.  This paper addresses the question of how a psychological contract perspective makes sense of employment relations practices and provides key guidelines for managers on how they should be conducted in a world of individual employment relationships.  In 1996, the ‘Contracting’ process (Tipples, 1996) was presented as the key to employment relations as it sought to achieve mutually balanced psychological contracts between willing employers and willing employees.  This paper shows that contracting continues as a valid and simple strategy for developing open, trusting, and productive employment relationships today across all cultures.  It has been reinforced by more recent research. 

*Honorary Associate Professor of Employment Relations, Lincoln University

Commentary: The Dairy Workplace Action Plan, Kelly’s ‘Pledge Washing’, and the Health and Safety at Work Act, 2015

Rupert Tipples*


The dairy farming industry has launched its Dairy Workplace Action Plan to tackle endemic employment problems of attracting and retaining staff, high staff turnover, changing career patterns and the increasing use of migrant workers, especially in non-traditional South Island dairy farming areas.  The Action Plan is based on moving from mere compliance to having quality dairy farming workplaces through actions represented in five themes.  However, Kelly has described this as 'pledge washing’, which is a managerial strategy to avoid formal regulation.  The Action Plan represents a continuation of the long run opposition of dairy farming employers to any form of worker organisation or formal participation.  This continues to undermine pan industry public good organisations such as PrimaryITO.

*Honorary Associate Professor of Employment Relations, Lincoln University

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